President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccination program from the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo
May 4 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a new goal to administer at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to 70% of Americans and 160 million people fully vaccinated by July 4.
In remarks at the White House, Biden pledged to make vaccines more accessible by directing tens of thousands of pharmacies to offer walk-in appointments and redirecting Federal Emergency Management Agency resources to support pop-up clinics, community vaccination sites and mobile clinics.
"The pace of vaccinations is slowing now that the majority of American adults have gotten their first shot. But we're still vaccinating millions of Americans every day," he said.
The White House said 105 million Americans have so far been fully vaccinated and 56% have received at least one dose.
Biden also announced more than $250 million in funding for community-based organizations to help increase access to COVID-19 vaccines for areas hardest hit by the pandemic as well as $130 million to improve vaccine education, $250 million to fund vaccine outreach efforts in states, territories and some large cities, and $860 million to support testing at rural health clinics and hospitals.
"We're going to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated," said Biden.
The administration also announced it will send vaccines directly to rural health clinics, including areas with a limited number of other vaccination sites.
"We are always evaluating, how do we get more supply out to the American people and more shots in arms," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday. "Just a few weeks ago, we were in a different phase of our vaccinations where our supplies were more restrained. For the most part, states were ordering at or near their full allocations.
"We want to ensure that we free up unused and unordered doses."
Earlier Tuesday, Pfizer announced that it's asking for full regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration before the end of this month.
Full approval would allow the company to directly market its coronavirus vaccine to U.S. consumers.
Pfizer is also planning on FDA approval for use of the vaccine in adolescents between 12 and 15 years old. The approval is expected to come within days as states look to start vaccinating children ahead of the summer and their return to school in the fall.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40% of adults are now fully vaccinated. Biden said in his address to Congress last week that 90% of Americans now live within 5 miles of a vaccination site.
The CDC said last week that fully vaccinated Americans don't need to wear masks outdoors if they're walking, running, biking or attending small gatherings.
Biden on Tuesday said that those who are fully vaccinated are slowly returning to a normal lifestyle while those who are not vaccinated still face the threat of dying from the virus.
"This is your choice: It's life and death and I hope everyone knows within themselves and makes the choice that's going to help them and their loved ones be safe," he said.
Almost 580,000 people in the United States have died from the virus to date, according to Johns Hopkins University.
National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo